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Northern Ireland's Gavin Whyte reflects on that miss against Bosnia & Herzegovinia

 

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Northern Ireland's Gavin Whyte applauds the fans after defeat in Sarajevo.

Northern Ireland's Gavin Whyte applauds the fans after defeat in Sarajevo.

PA

Head boy: NI ace Gavin Whyte fires in a header against Bosnia

Head boy: NI ace Gavin Whyte fires in a header against Bosnia

PA

Edin Dzeko

Edin Dzeko

AFP/Getty Images

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Northern Ireland's Gavin Whyte applauds the fans after defeat in Sarajevo.

Former Crusaders star Gavin Whyte has admitted he has a hunger for international football after being given a small taste of the action in cameo roles against Israel last month and in the Nations League defeat to Bosnia and Herzegovina on Monday night.

However, the 22-year old is currently enduring a rollercoaster of emotions playing for Northern Ireland.

After being elated at scoring with his first touch against Israel in the 3-0 friendly win at Windsor Park, Whyte was left deflated as, after coming on as a second-half substitute against Bosnia, he missed a glorious chance to equalise by hitting the post from close range with the goal gaping, and then in the closing minutes he saw a deflected shot hit the upright again.

Oxford United's attacking midfielder accepts that at international level he simply must put away those opportunities, but conceded, especially with the first effort, he didn't have time to think.

"Stuarty (Dallas) floated it in and I made a good run, headed the ball and it came off the defender as he attempted to clear it," said Whyte, who has only been a professional footballer for three months since his move from Seaview to the Kassam Stadium in July.

"As soon as it landed, it came out to me really quickly, and I should be doing better, but it's about creating those chances.

"I can't really remember too much about it because it came at me really quickly. I didn't really get my footing right and at this level I should be taking those chances."

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A goal at that stage would have drawn Northern Ireland level after Edin Dzeko's first-half opener.

But Bosnia, knowing they'd dodged a bullet, regrouped, and Dzeko, after a brilliant assist from Juventus ace Miralem Pjanic, curled home their second goal.

Whyte, with his relentless energy and determination to impress, never gave up and he thought he'd scored a consolation goal in injury time.

"Yeah, I hit the post again," sighed Whyte. "I was getting into good areas, but you really need to be taking those chances at this level.

"I want to play at this level so I know I need to improve. I'm learning in every training session and I know I still need to get better to play at this level.

"But I felt I was positive and that's what Michael told me to be when going on. He said, 'Play like the player you are, run at players', and I think I did that."

It's been an incredible transformation for Whyte as just 12 months ago he was playing in a Crusaders side being defeated 3-2 by Glenavon in the Danske Bank Premiership at Seaview.

Now, a year on, he found himself coming up against Dzeko, Pjanic and Haris Duljevic.

"It's been a mad year and a mad few months, but I've loved every minute of it," said Whyte. "I just want more of this so I have to go back to Oxford and try to keep playing well for them.

"Michael (O'Neill) is picking the squad on how you're playing every week and he watches every player, so I've got to keep that in mind and improve all the time.

"He's been watching me for years and, even when I was in the Irish League, he has been keeping an eye on me. I think he has a bit of faith in me now and knows what I'm all about. He wants to see me keep improving, so that's what I want to do."


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